As Christian, Amy, and Declan indicated The Great White Hope is based on the life of Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight champion in the US. The PBS documentary Unforgivable Blackness is widely available and worth screening not only for its depiction of Johnson, but its representation of the era. See, for example:
On this date in 1969 Fred Hampton was murdered by Chicago police.
Claud Walsingham Popple is probably based on John Singer Sargent rather than James MacNeil Whistler, as I said in class. Sargent was a successful “society painter” who first gained attention with the “scandalous” work Portrait of Madame X.
A prolific artist, Sargent prospered to such a degree he was able to pick and choose his subjects. Elite figures of high society clamored for him to “do” them. Here is a sampling of such portraits taken from artstor.org– a very valuable image database that you should consult.